Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Blue Christmas

Well..not so much. I feel bad that I can't be at home during actual Christmas with Jeff and that I couldn't afford to buy anyone gifts, but my time at home was nevertheless wonderful. And..since Jesus's birthday wasn't on Dec. 25th anyway..I'm ok w/ not opening gifts that day. I can celebrate his birth whenever I please. I had a full 2 weeks vacation from work which I very much needed..but I still feel like I need rest. I had 5 days off at home before I left for Virginia which let me sleep and get some of the house stuff done. Plus, it let me spend some time with Jeff. We rocked out on Guitar Hero 3, watched some movies, and went to his aunt's Christmas dinner up in Galax.

After getting to Roanoke, Mom and I designed and built a gingerbread house!! It turned out so cute!! I'll post pictures once Jeff fixes my computer at home. The power supply got fried..but that's another story for another time. Anyhow, we went to The Roanoker for breakfast as is Christmas Eve tradition and then went downtown on the Market to walk around. We visited a few shops and then came home to work on the gingerbread house some more. Friday, we went to dinner at El Torreo and then drove around looking at Christmas lights. Over off of Starmount Ln...or Rd?? anyway.., there's a house that has it's roof completely covered in lights. We parked in front and saw a sign telling us to turn to a radio station for the complete show. The lights match the was awesome! They were playing some great songs and I wanted to listen to it, but you can't pick up the station anywhere except in front of their house. If you get a chance and you live in Roanoke, you should go see it. Go past the Hollins fire station 5 and take a left onto Starmount..the house is further down on the right.

Right after that, Mom got a call to go to Pulaski to do an x-ray on this elderly woman, so I went with her so she didn't have to make the trip by herself. It's a little over an hour away. For those of you who don't know, she works for a mobile x-ray company that travels around x-raying people who are bedridden or are injured to badly to move. Mostly, they go to nursing homes. Anyhow, I got to see how she does her job and it was really neat. She unloads an x-ray machine on wheels and rolls it into the room. This time, it was just an ankle, but it it had been a rib, she'd have had to move this 275 lb. woman around to get the slide under her. Yikes. After the x-rays are done, she takes them back to van to develop them. Then, she scans them into the computer and sends them digitally to their on call radiologist out in CA. That person then faxes the results back to the nursing home. So, from the time Mom got the call to the time we pulled into the driveway was 3.5 hours...and she does this all the time. Technically, they could call her at 2 am and tell her she needs to go to Wytheville to do an x-ray. Luckily, that hasn't happened yet.

The next day, Mom and I went back downtown to the market to go to a gourmet candy store to get stuff for the house. We got some hot cider while visiting the little stores and market ware tables..stuff like homebaked breads and jams, homemade soaps and wreaths..even mistletoe! Then we had lunch at Ernie's..a little dive with hot dogs and pinto beans & cornbread...and the best home fries I've ever had..outside of Mom's of course. was home to warm up and start planning our gingerbread decorations!

Kelly came over later that night and we had our Christmas together. I felt bad since I hadn't bought anyone gifts. It was just me opening presents while they all watched. Kelly got me a bag full of Bath & Body Works stuff...she knows just what I! Mom and Dad got me some clothes and had made me a Christmas decoration. Mom buys those glass blocks that you'd use for a window and drills a hole in the side of it. Then she stuffs a string of lights inside it and wraps the outside with a ribbon to look like a Christmas gift that you plug in. They're so pretty! They also gave me money which Jeff and I desperately needed.

Sunday was pretty lazy..just hanging out with Mom & Dad talking and catching up on stuff. That afternoon around 3, I left for Blacksburg to stay the night with Kelly. She took me to dinner at Cabo Fish Taco..which I recommend to everybody!! Quite yummy!! I'm a little upset I left my leftovers at her house..but I'm sure she enjoyed it!! We then got some Wassail fixin's and went back to her house to make some and to play Guitar Hero 3. Kelly was so funny. Here she is playing a song by Poison, but swaying and moving around like she's a member of the Partridge family...hahaha!!! She caught on really quick, so it was a lot of fun. I didn't get any sleep that night though. I don't know if it was b/c of the sound of the wind blowing against the house or if it was b/c I was in a different bed.

Monday morning, I got up and headed back to Roanoke to meet Jeff's mom and dad for lunch at noon. They took me to Annie Moore's pub for a yummy meal of fish & chips. After was off to shop. Jane decided that since I didn't give them a Christmas list, they'd just give me a dollar amount and let me get what I wanted. After a 7 hour shopping trip..I ended up with a memory foam pillow, 4 sweaters and some leather cashmere lined gloves...and I still have about $125 left to spend. I have to take the pillow back's too stiff. I was trying to get stuff that I knew I wouldn't buy for myself. A jewelry box, a new air purifier, the pillow, curtains, and a mattress pad for the bed. I couldn't find what I wanted or it was too expensive. I wish I had more to show for that 7 hours, but I think she's going to give me the remainder of the money in cash. Anyhow, after shopping, we had dinner at Golden Corral then I headed home.

Tuesday, Mom and I decorated the gingerbread house. It had a little front porch with columns made of chocolate covered shortbread sticks. The windows were melted butterscotch candies and the shutters were cinnamon life cereal. we made a chimney with shortbread cookies and then covered it in square cinnamon candies so it looked like brick and we did that up the whole side of the house. It turned out awesome!! We didn't get to finish before I had to leave for home though. I didn't want to be going through Greensboro at rush hour, so I wanted to leave Roanoke no later than 2 and I was pushing it. The only thing left to be done to the house was put up the white picket fence make of white chocolate covered pretzels, build the walkway, finish the roof decorations and do the landscaping. I'm hoping Kelly will be able to help her finish it since she hadn't had a part in it thus far. I can't wait to see a finished picture!!

Before I left, I followed Mom over to Grandpa's to say hello to him. He made me eat lunch before I left, so I happily consumed my bologna and cheese sandwich. He seemed to be doing well. He has a hard time getting around, but mentally, he's still quick and high spirited. At 84, he's still a handful! If he'd keep up his physical therapy, he'd still be able to move around and would probably live another 15 years. He refuses to use a wheelchair. I told him if it'd help, I'd get him a leather jacket and paint flames down the side of the chair. Maybe get Grandma a side car. She'd still tell him how to drive. "Now Jack, don't go too fast around this turn..." makes me laugh to picture it.

Since coming home, I've moved the turtles to a bigger tank and just hung out around the house. Jeff and I went to Carolina Brewery Wednesday night and then had our Christmas. I bought him the dual pack of Guitar Hero 1 and 2 plus 10 lottery tickets...we didn't win but $4. =( He got me The Goonies and Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix on DVD..both of which thrilled me! Last night, Jeff cooked and we watched the Goonies.

All in was a great holiday. The only thing I didn't get to do was see Hannah..our schedules weren't compatible..and go see Ronnie, Misty and the kids. I also wish I could've seen Grandma, but it's kind of depressing. I also wish I could've spent more time with Kelly, but what time I did have with her was great. I also wish I didn't have my work drama hanging over my head. I still don't know what the outcome will be..and that worried me a bit while I was off. I thought there'd be a letter or something in my mailbox when I got back to work tonight, but there was nothing there. I guess it's kind of fitting that I came back to work on the darkest day of the year.

There weren't many gifts to open...but it's quality, not quantity that matters. I got to spend time with my family and that was what I needed most. They really lifted my spirits when I desperately needed it..and that's what Christmas is about. I felt more loved and cared about in that 5 days that I was up there than I have in a long time. I'd been feeling alone and helpless. I know Jeff loves me..but since he's going through most of the same stuff with me, it's hard to offer support and encouragement when he's feeling the same way I am. I just feel very lucky to have the friends and family that I have. They've always been there for me and always bring smiles and laughter in the darkest of times. I can never say thank you enough. I sit on my first 12 hour night of 7..wishing I were back home curled in bed with Jeff...who's not there because now he's in Roanoke with his family for Christmas. A lot of times, I do feel like this place just sucks the happiness right out of me, but I'm doing my best to remember all the good times over the past 2 weeks to get me through the next few nights. Wish me luck....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holiday blahs

UPDATE; The well guys came back and we have water now!! Although..he said that the water bladder in the tank under the house didn't sound right, so he wants to come back Thursday and check it again. He told us that today, we need to run the water for 15 for 15, on for 15, off again, on again and that should help mix the chlorine and get it out of the water faster. This morning, Jeff said he had awesome water pressure but when I turned the faucet on later on...the pressure dwindled. I'm not sure if the tank is empty or if there's something wrong with the tank under the house where it's not giving constant pressure. We won't know until tomorrow..but I hope it's nothing serious b/c I don't know if homeowners will cover that or not. Ugh!
For those of you wondering how I'm doing...I'm still sick. I went back to the Dr. yesterday and am on my 3rd..yes THIRD..round of antibiotics. Plus a different type of inhaler which is just steroids and not the albuterol like the Advair is. The Advair was just sticking to my tongue and not being breathed in. So, now I have the antibiotics, nasal steroids, inhaler steroids and a pretty heavy cough suppressant. I'm still hacking up goo..but that's on a good day. Mostly, it's dry coughs from the drainage. My nose is still stopped up most of the time and if I breathe out too hard, I start coughing again. My chest aches from all the hacking and I still get headaches from it. How long can this go on??? Six weeks people. My first trip to the Dr. was Oct. 30th and at that point, I'd already been sick a few weeks. I can't call into work forever, but I feel like I'm pushing myself too hard with housework, work and traveling that I'm just wearing myself down. I started taking vitamin C to give my immune system a boost, but so far it hasn't helped much.

On top of that, we have some major home drama that developed yesterday. Yesterday, our power went off for about an hour. When it came back on, I just got back to my Tivo and didn't think anything else of it. Then I went to water. Hmm. So, I flipped the well breaker off and back on. Still no water. Damn. I called Jeff to get his thoughts and a few hours later he was home to check it out. We stood outside under a very dark, cloudy and oppressive sky and tested the power line to it. While he did that, I flipped out over an enormous black widow spider who's web we'd just destroyed while exposing the well. Yikes. She's dead now though...shew. Anyway..we had power running to the well..but not in the right voltage...yep...that's right, the power outage fried our well pump. Lovely., Jeff stayed home and called Trinity Plumbing and Well Pump Co. to come out and look at it. We wanted to make sure it was the pump gone bad and not an electrical problem.

These awesome guys showed up and had one hell of a time getting the cap off. The idiots who put it in, screwed the cap down when it's just supposed to pop off. Then we discovered that instead of using one solid pipe, they pieced together stiff PVC we now have 300 ft. of PVC lying in the yard. He had to go back to get some stuff off his other truck and will be back later. He said we'd have water by tonight even if he was here after dark and being that it's 5:30...I hope he gets here soon. He's replacing the pump, piping and insulation..oh...and wiring. I knew it would be expensive..but no idea how much. Wanna take a guess?? It's $750 just for the pump..but it's bigger, better quality and will give us more water pressure.'s about $750 for the installation of all this least. Our homeowners covers power surges, lightening strikes, etc...but it's a matter of proving this was caused by that power outage.

We have a lot of power issues. In the 5 years we've been here, we've replaced the furnace fan 4 times b/c of power surges. We're at the end of the power grid, so we're the last to get power back when it goes out, it flickers constantly. The guy looked at our well pump and said you could see the power damage on the pump from surges and the high voltage. Woo. Progress Energy still swears there's no problem even though we call them repeatedly about the flickers, outages, etc.

Sigh..this year has been hell. Our water heater, our septic line, the fridge water hose, the furnace fan again, my car, now the well...what the hell is up with all this??? Jeff and I have both been's always something. Anyhow...even if our homeowners covers this, our deductible is $500. There goes Christmas. Now, on top of not being able to spend the holidays with family and friends, I can't afford to get them gifts either. If homeowners doesn't cover it..where am I going to get $1500???? Dad just gave me a savings bond that matured this that's $515..but I was really hoping to save it and get something meaningful and important. I guess indoor plumbing is important..but you know what I mean. This also makes me wonder how they did it hundreds of years ago without indoor plumbing. They had to go pump their own water or get it from a stream. They spent their whole day harvesting crops if they were lucky enough to afford to grow them. Had to make candles to see by, make their own clothes, keep the farm animals inside the house so they wouldn't' freeze. They spent every day just trying to stay alive..wondering if there was enough food to eat. They worked their fingers to the bone just to survive meal to meal. Now..our meals can be ready in 5 minutes, our water comes right to our house, and we have light just at the touch of a finger. We have it sooo easy compared to our ancestors yet still have no time for anything.

I just feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders even though my problems are small in comparison to many. I can never get a break. I feel guilty for being out of work even though I'm sick. I don't want to get anyone else sick either..or catch yet another bug from someone there. I've been sanitizing my house like a madwoman. Well..not really..just spraying Lysol on every surface we touch constantly. Without water..we've been using hand sanitizer constantly and I'm really in need of a shower. It hasn't quite been 2 days..but that's long enough. Our dishes are filthy, the laundry's piled up...sigh. I know people at work will say.."You've been off work for a week!! You should be rested!" No..not really. Being sick takes a lot out of you. Life at home doesn't stop when you're sick. The dogs and cats still have to be fed, the laundry needs to be done, dishes washed, floor vacuumed, furniture dusted, bills paid..etc. I either can't sleep from coughing..or I sleep like the dead and wake up more tired for some reason. I tried to occupy some of my time by playing Guitar Hero III, but I coughed too much and had to stop.

Normally, the holidays make me happy. Turkey, presents, cranberry salad, deviled eggs, caroling, decorating the tree, laughing with family..but this year, I'm just depressed. Too much going on. I love buying stuff for people and seeing their faces when they open their gift from me. It makes me not being able to do that this year upsets me. I try to look on the bright our well hadn't broken..we never would've discovered that black widow spider. If I hadn't gotten sick, I wouldn't appreciate having my health quite as much...but I'm at the point where the positive is a tiny light at the end of a tunnel and I don't care to even try to reach it anymore. I've paid my dues this year..I'm hoping next year will be fantastic...but I won't hold my breath.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Finally...some progress

As many of you know..I've been sick for about the past 5 weeks. It started as a head cold which was treated as a sinus infection: antibiotics, nasal steroids and an OTC decongestant. Two weeks had moved into my chest and was treated w/ stronger antibiotics, a prescription expectorant/decongestant and an inhaler. That was last Wednesday. Today, I am finally coughing up some of this crap!! It hasn't been pleasant. I still sound like a frog, My body is trying to rid me of my lungs apparently as I can barely stop coughing. An unholy headache has set in due to all the coughing and my body aches from how hard I have to cough to see any results. But's results.

Yesterday I tried keeping my head over a bowl of hot water w/ a towel over my head....closely resembling a terrorist trying to breath in the soul of an infidel. No matter, it still helped to some degree. This morning, I woke up with a fit of coughs and tried hot sauce, thinking surely that'll make me cough up some stuff. Eh. I've apparently developed some sort of immunity to the hotness. On to the whiskey. A shot later, I was hacking..but no major reason to celebrate. As I bent down to pet my Farley cat, he let out a SBD fart that made me gag. That did the trick. It might have been a combination of all 3, but I hacked up some nasty stuff...all thanks to my cat's ass. As I watched the green blob slide down the drain, I couldn't help but think of the Mucinex commercials and in a triumphant voice proclaimed.."Die you slimey bastard..DIE!! Now if I can just get the rest of his grotesque family out of my lungs, I'll be jubilent.

I was supposed to leave for Roanoke yesterday, but didn't much feel like it. I hadn't gotten much sleep, I was still hacking terribly and hadn't packed. I'd try..but I just wasn't with it..I kept forgetting stuff. 3pm, I decided to wait until this morning. That gave me another day to get all my stuff together, take care of a few housekeeping necessities and rest. I hadn't intended on waking up at 5:30, so I'm not sure how this'll change my plan...we'll see. If I'm still sick next week, I don't know what the next step is. I don't think more antibiotics will help me. Maybe this is just something I have to wait out. Or..maybe I just keep reinfecting myself. Jeff has a lesser version of the same crap...and the Dr. told him everyone she'd seen last weekend had the same stuff. Great. An epidemic. I Lysoled the crap out of my house...and work for that matter. I hope it helps. My biggest fear is that I'll get my grandparents sick this week while I'm in VA. I'd feel bad if I got any of my other family sick too, but their immune systems are far better than my grandparents' are. I hope they don't banish me to the kids table or make me wear a mask. I can't imagine how hard it would be to shove mashed potatoes through one of those little filters, but dammit, it wouldn't stop me from trying.

Anyhow..I'm off to bed again. I hope the rest of you have safe travels, a joyous Thanksgiving and are fortunate enough to snag the last deviled egg. ;)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Life Update.

Ah..the past week has been awesome. Other than a bad trip to the vet with Jazz, it's been great. A few months back Jeff had made plans to take me to the mountains for my out a huge vet bill wasn't what I wanted right before we left, but it had to be done to board Jazz. Faith was overdue too so I went ahead and took her too. Jazz freaked out when they took her away from me to the back room so they made me muzzle her. As it turns out..Jazz has heartworms and hookworms. Faith's test was negative..which relieves me..but I'll still have to pay for Jazz's treatment and that'll run about $700. That seems a bit high to me..but my other option is just giving her Heartgard for 2 years for the worms to die and I'd rather not wait that long for more damage to be done. The vet trip was $400 I really didn't want to spend right before our trip..but it had to be done..sigh.

Anyhow, Friday morning, we dropped the dogs off and got the Miata on the road. We took a very relaxed drive to Fontana Dam, NC. We weren't in any real hurry and got there in about 6 hours. We took tons of pictures of the Dam and drove around seeing the foliage. It was peak color weekend too! Absolutely gorgeous!! We drove the Hellbender to Robbinsville and had dinner at Sweetwater BBQ..excellent if you ever get a chance!! Then, we had a few drinks at the bar and watched the night sky.

Saturday morning, we got up early since we'd planned to go to Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to do some shopping. We drove the Tail of the Dragon to get there and woo! what a ride!! It has 318 curves in 11 miles..nothing but switchbacks and S curves. If you get car sick, don't ride it! They even have the Tree of Shame where people who've gotten stupid and wrecked their cars, hang parts up on the tree. We stopped along the way to take pictures and eat and then stopped in Pigeon Forge to get Jeff some shoes from the Rockport outlet and then get coffee from Harry & David. We also went to Smoky Mountain Knife Works in Sevierville and got some more Henkel knives for our kitchen.

Way too much money later, we left to meet Hannah, Chris and the girls for dinner. Thank God for GPS otherwise we'd never found our way around all the traffic! After meeting them at their cabin and figuring out where to go, we went back to Pigeon Forge to eat at Best Italian Cafe & Pizzeria..where we waited an hour or more to the time we ate, it was around 10:30. The girls were exhausted and the food wasn't as good as I remembered it. Still, I got to hang out with Hannah who I hadn't seen in months. We left and took a road through the Nat'l Park and got to see a black bear in the wild. That was one of my highlights! We didn't get back to Fontana Village until 2am and then slept until around 11 the next day.

Sunday, we explored an old abandoned church and house and drove the Dragon again. We walked around and saw an old cemetery and then decided to go back to Robbinsville for dinner. We took back roads and explored some of the little towns around there. We also took night pictures of the Dam where some sort of badger thing ran at me..LOL. Anyway, it was just a very laid back relaxing weekend...something I didn't realize I needed quite so badly. I decided that day that this was something I'd like to do every year and that's when Jeff gave me my gift. He bought me a timeshare at Fontana Village so we can go as much as we want!! Woo hoo! We can bank our points and go to other places too if we're tired of Fontana. That was the last thing I expected!! He's just awesome!

Monday, we checked out, had a really great breakfast and took the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville before hopping on I40. We had to take another detour around some traffic and by the time we stopped and had dinner in Lexington and got home..we'd been on the road for about 10 hours. I was so tired but I was more content and relaxed than I'd been in a long time. And..after all that, I still had 3 days off work ahead of me. I didn't do crap. Some laundry, some dishes, some grocery shopping..oh..and another trip to the doctor..but other than that..I watched movies and took My cold moved from my head to my chest but I didn't have any problems up in the mountains. Once I got back..bam..Congestion City.

Anyhow..I know this blog is probably pretty boring..but I just wanted to let everyone know how my birthday went and what's been up with me. Thanksgiving is next week and while I was denied next weekend off..I'm still going to make the most of it. I also have to work Christmas..again..for the 4th year in a I have to make plans to have Christmas early with family. I'm not sure if I can get in the Christmas spirit since I don't have the money for gifts and can't actually be home during Christmas..but I'm going to make the best of it too and do my best to get another job so I don't have to work any more Christmas's..woo!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I'm now cultured.

This past weekend, Jeff and I made plans to go to the International Festival in Raleigh. It lasts 2 days and we were made aware of it by Anwar, one of Jeff's coworkers. Saturday..we were sick, so we slept in until 1:30. We decided we needed to get some type of inhaler or something since we have chest colds, so I mentioned going to Walmart and grabbing lunch. Jeff decided that if we're going to lunch...the best place to go would be Maggiano's..mmm. I love the way Jeff's mind works!! So, we had an early dinner at Maggiano's then wandered around a bit before going to Target to buy a humidifier and cold stuff..then went to Best Buy and World Market before hitting Starbucks on our way home.

Once home, Jeff and I cleaned up the office some, tinkered on the computers..and crashed early. Sunday, we got up, got dressed and headed to Raleigh..only to realize we were there early because of the time change. D'oh! That actually worked out great because I was starving. We got burgers & fries and sat down to eat when Jeff ran into someone he knew from Redhat. Sam..a cute bubbly blonde who happened to be running a jewelry booth at the flea market.

After our burgers were gone, we made our way to Sam & Tish's jewelry booth, titled..Broads and Beads. They handmake all their jewelry and it was all just beautiful. If they don't have what you want, they'll make it for you. We hadn't seen Tish in years, so there were hugs all around. Tish is the kind of person you can't help but love. She's loud, somewhat crude and always happy..and a biker bitch. Piercings and tats galore..she has a smile and laugh that can get you out of your worst mood. I really liked the earrings she was wearing, so she found some similar..but I didn't like the stones, so she let me pick stones I liked and made it right in front of me..and gave me a discount!! Woo hoo! They rock!! We chatted with them for about 2 and a half hours and during this time..noticed a large crowd gathering not far from us. We went over to see why..a big HUGE pig..named Smithfield..I'm assuming after the bbq...was painting. Yes, the pig was painting. He'd pick the brush up in his mouth and then smear it across the canvas..drop it and pick up another brush. His owner would put the brushes back in the paint and he'd keep going through them until he felt like the painting was done...then she'd announce it was for sale for $25. Interesting..and she even said she'd mark it w/ a hoof print. Wow. What else can you say? After that..we headed off to the international festival.

Once inside..the smell of sooo many yummy foods smacked you right in the face. Each country had their information booth..and then a food booth. Represented were Bangladesh..where I had lunch..yummy...France, China, Japan, Armenia, Hungary, Scandinavia, Philippines, Greece, Poland, Egypt, Ireland, Scotland, Brazil, India, Russia, Italy, Iran, Israel, Korea, Turkey, Kenya, Ethiopia, Finland, Nepal, Tibet, Portugal..uh..I know I'm forgetting quite a few..but you get the idea.

Each country also had dancers to perform traditional dances from their country. We only caught Korea, Ireland, Brazil, Israel, Turkey and the Finnish/Swedish dancers. One of the Brazilian chicks wore thongs under her skirt, so every time she twirled, all you saw was butt cheeks..Jeff's jaw dropped. The Turkish dancers did nothing but shake their boobs. My favorites were the Irish step dancers. They rocked that stage so much..I thought it was going to fall down. I think there were about 30-35 of them up there. It was so exciting!

We also got dessert at the Scandinavia booth and it was so incredibly yummy..I ran over some poor kid and didn't even know it because I was so glazed over with yummy induced bliss. It was some sort of chocolate torte...there are no words to describe it's decadence. Wow and yummy don't come close to describing it..or the cookies Jeff got from there. We wandered from booth to booth looking at each country's wares and information. Bangladesh was the neatest one I thought. They had a display of how they live self-sufficiently. They have poultry and livestock, a garden and a water pump. They have a gas chamber where they shovel all the manure and a pipe leads from that chamber to the house where they use the methane gas to heat the house and the stove. It was a really neat display and It made me wonder why no one here would be willing to do it. If one person stayed home to farm and the other could save so much money by using your own resources for food and heat, you could easily make it on one income.

Anyhow, after gaining some culture and having my name written in Farsi by a cute little Iranian woman, we headed back out into the flea market to say goodbye to Tish and Sam. We chatted with them for another 30-45 minutes and Tish told me that if I wanted to make dog treats, she'd sell them at her stand to see how they did and if it worked out well, I could get my own tent. She said there's only one other person there who sells dog treats, so I wouldn't have a lot of competition. Now that I know they're out there every weekend, Jeff and I are going to have to go out there more often and hang out with them. They're so much fun to be around. Tish is 40..but acts like she's 20 and she has a style all her own...she just is what she is and says what's on her mind and you have to admire that.

After hugs and goodbyes, we made our way back home..and accidentally ran into Brooke in Pittsboro, so I followed her home and we hung out there for an hour or so. I sat down and bam..had 3 weiner dogs jump in my lap at one time..that's lots of sharp little teeth and tongues all at once. They're so cute, but they never sit still long enough to really get a good look at their faces. We discussed our jobs, her family drama, my upcoming weekend getaway to the Smokies with Jeff for my birthday, my name it..we pretty much covered it in that hour. Once we got was about we unwound by watching some tv, looking at our pictures from the day and playing with the dogs. Then it was bedtime..and I crashed pretty hard..slept all night last night and most of the day today before I trudged into work. I'm so ready for a week off..I can't wait until this Friday!! I'll be in the Smokies where I can breathe easy and curl up next to my husband without any interruptions for the whole weekend....and enjoy the last days of my 30th year..for on Monday, I'll be 31. I hate the sound of that..but maybe once I get into a happy job where I thrive instead of dying a little more inside, I'll be more comfortable with my age and purpose in life. Only time will tell...for now, I just have to be happy in knowing I get to go home to Jeff every morning and have family and friends who are always there to cheer me up and help me out...cause that's really all that matters anyway.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bible Stories by Kids

My mom sent me this and I couldn't help but laugh!! I really needed it after the past week or so. If you haven't seen this already..enjoy! If you have seen it..enjoy it again!!

Bible Stories by Kids

We all need a good laugh and these are enjoyable. A book titled Little Wonders, by Mary Hollingsworth, has stories concerning children.

This one was contributed by Todd and Jedd Hafer.

One of our favorite jobs has been leading junior church. We try to do more than baby-sit our church's beloved little ankle-biters during their time in our special junior church facility. We aim to give them a solid background in biblical history.

At the end of each year, we give them pencils and paper and ask them to chronicle what they have learned. This assignment never fails to elicit some intriguing responses. In case you're a little foggy on your biblical history, let our junior church students help you with this complete overview of the Bible, compiled from their essays:

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, "The Lord thy God is one," but I think He must be a lot older than that. Anyway, God said, "Give me a light!" and someone did. Then God made the world.

He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs , mice, lice, bowels, and no cable God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then He gave them His top ten Commandments. These include don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's bottom (the Bible uses a bad word for bottom that I'm not supposed to say. But my Dad uses it sometimes when he talks about the President). Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor they father and they mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me. After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jon ah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore. There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of the New Testament. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn, too, because my mom is always saying to me, "Close the door! Were you born in a barn" It would be nice to say, "As a matter of fact, I was.").

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Republicans. Jesus also had twelve opossums.The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount. But the Republicans and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

HAHA! I need to go back and read these parts to see where they got this translation from. Judas Asparagus?! HAHAHA!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Just a Dog

To those who've told me it's crazy to mourn the loss of Jack..

"From time to time, people tell me, "lighten up, it's just a dog," or, "that's a lot of money for just a dog." They don't understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog." Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog." Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog," but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog," and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day. If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you will probably understand phases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise." "Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. "Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person. Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. "Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day. I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog" but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a man." So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog." just smile, because they "just don't understand."

The Aftermath.

It's been 2 days, 13 hours and 34 minutes since Jack's been gone and I still feel very heavy hearted. Truth be told, my heart literally ached Friday night and I was sick to my stomach for most of the weekend. I've never cried that much in my life. The house is still very somber and the dogs are mourning Jack's absence, especially Patches. She goes out in the yard and lays down where Jack passed on and will sniff the places where he last laid in the grass that morning. Once, she even followed the scent where Jeff carried Jack's body over to the Dr's Jeep. She looked so forlorn when she lost his scent. She's not eating and just lies around the house. I know we each have to make peace with this in our own time, in our own way, but I wish for her that it could be easier.

I kept blaming myself for Jack, but after doing some research on Squamous Cell Carcinoma, I realized there really wasn't anything I could have done. In humans, it's the 2nd most common type of skin cancer. In dogs, it's highly misdiagnosed and mistreated. It's aggressive, non-metastasized and usually invades the nasal passages, mouth, and sinuses of dogs. It's appearance is described as red, cauliflower, raised and ulcerated. Radiation has had the best results, but it must be caught very early and there's still no guarantee. I also read that the body's immune system can successfully rid the body of the cancer for a period..which may explain why it came and went for more than a year.

Out of 9 cases of SCC, the one to live longest was 18 months..and that was after several rounds of chemo plus surgery. I'm grateful Jack lasted the same amount of time and was strong and brave enough to fight it off for as long as he did. We could've spent thousands and thousands trying to save him, but I haven't found one documented case where treatment saved a dog with eventually just took over in every case. I wish I'd paid more attention and had recognized what it was when we first saw it. It was smooth, red, hard and just under the inside of his lip. We just happened to notice it while he was lying on his back for a belly rub and his mouth was open. Maybe I could've given him a year or two longer. Anyway..

Friday, we let each of the dogs say their goodbyes before the vet came but we left Patches outside so she could also be by his side when he made his journey to the Rainbow Bridge. However, when the vet came, she snarled and barked, I think because she knew what they were there to do and she was trying to protect and save Jack. I had to take her inside and instead, she watched from the window. That night, Jeff and I both wanted to get out of the house. I was weepy all day and just the sight of one of his tufts of fur under a chair, or looking at the place in the yard where he left us had me bawling all over again. The only place you can go late at night is Wal-mart, so we made our way to Sanford to see the new bigger 24 hr. Wal-mart they'd just opened. It was a small reprieve from the gloominess in our house, but I wept most of the way there and some of the way home.

Saturday, we felt that it may do Patches some good to get out of the house also, so we loaded our remaining 3 dogs up in the car and took them up to New Hill to walk on the American Tobacco Trail. We walked 4 miles total and they were pretty well worn out by the time we made it home. Patches was doing better while we were out, but as soon as we returned home, she recommenced her moping. I'm sure she can still smell him in the house, but maybe her mourning will ease some after his scent fades.

There's so many things about Jack I'll miss. The wild stray pieces of fur that stood straight up on his head. The little tufts of fur on his toes that he refused to let us trim. The way he'd have to push all his food down so it was a completely flat surface before he'd eat it. His own little Snoopy dance when we came home..he'd wiggle and bounce around in a circle then run off to grab a toy or sock and then bounce in circles again. The way he'd bite his upper lip and lower his head when he was embarrassed about something..usually either b/c he farted or b/c he'd just been shaved for the summer. The way he'd sit his back end in the back seat of the car with his front end standing on the hump. The way he'd only put his front half up in your lap on the couch while still standing on the floor. Or how he'd lay just under your feet where ever you were he could still get rubbed when you rocked the chair. How you'd throw him a treat and you could hear his teeth clack together..and even if he missed it..he'd still sound like he was gobbling it up or snorting like he really was inhaling it. I'll miss how he couldn't just curl up next to you..he had to be ON you. The sound of his bark and the drool on the outside of my car windows b/c he had his head hanging out the whole trip.

I'll also miss the way he smells. Friday before the vet came, I buried my face in his fur and took a gigantic breath so I'd always remember how he smelled. Like people, each animal has their own unique scent..and I want to remember his. He came a long way in the 6 years we had him. He went from being timid, scared of his own shadow and not knowing how to play to being goofy, bouncy, and all smiles. He even had a smile on his face at the end. I'd like to imagine that he went to sleep in Jeff's arms with our voices in his ears telling him how wonderful he was, that we'd see him again one day and that we loved him...then awoke in a huge meadow under a shade tree by a babbling brook where he'll play with other dogs under the sun and wait for Jeff and I to come get him. I truly don't know how long it'll take me to get over this, but I'll always think of him when I have french fries or am making a peanut butter sandwich. I know he's better now and happy. I just wish I felt the same.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wonder & Understanding

I wonder:

Why leaving the house 5 minutes late makes you 15 minutes late to work.

Why people without children tell people with children how best to raise them.

Why cloudy, cool days make me happy and sunny, hot days make me cranky.

Why people feel the need to interfere in others lives because they think they can "help"..but when Emperor Penguins fall in a huge crevice with no way out, they refuse to intervene because it's just the "nature of things". --see March of the Penguins.

Why bad things happen to good people and why good things happen to bad people.

Where all the missing socks are.

If dogs carry on conversations through barks.

Why the things we want most are the worst for us and the things that are good..we find boring. This applies to people, not just food, etc.

Why searching for your family tree and ancestors information is so expensive and time consuming yet a stranger can access and steal your information in a matter of minutes.

More to come.....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Pet Peeve or two

Well..after 23 hours of overtime this past pay period..I enjoyed a weekend off with Jeff. We made plans to go to Old Salem for the day, but couldn't seem to get out of bed to go. We slept most of the day and then got up to go in to Durham for dinner. Kanki was packed, so we went to Kurama's. It was alright..not Kanki by any stretch of the imagination. When you go to a Japanese steakhouse..don't you expect the cooks to be Japanese? Me too. Out of the 4 chefs I saw..ALL of them were hispanic. The only Japanese guy I saw was the waiter who came to fill our drinks. None of the hostesses were Japanese...not even asian at all. How irritating is that!?! It's just a pet peeve of mine..

Sunday we slept late again and then went to get groceries and eat dinner. When we got home and put the groceries away, I was cleaning the kitchen when the dogs wanted out. Lucky..our tuxedo kitty also got out the door. When I went to round him up and was calling his name, I heard a meow..but it didn't sound like Lucky. Every time I said his name..I got a meow..then I looked over and a little gray tabby and white kitty was sitting there answering me. She wouldn't come to I went to get the cat treats.

Lucky knows the sound of the treat he tried to run up on the deck, but noticed the other cat and freaked the hell out!! He hissed and chased her out into the yard, then came up to claim his treats. He was put inside and I stayed out on the deck with our visitor to see what kind of shape she was in. She was soooo skinny!! I gave her a few handfuls of treats and then a can of Iams turkey wet food which our cats won't eat. They're picky...they only want seafood. She pretty much inhaled it and was still looking for more. I kept trying to lure her to me and she finally ate out of my hand, but wouldn't let me pet her. I hope she comes back though. I think Jeff was annoyed since we already have 3, but I couldn't let her starve..and even if she did come back daily, she'd be an outdoor cat. I couldn't handle the litterboxes for 4 cats! Sigh...I'm such a sucker.

In other news..the UNC students are back and I'm hating it. The traffic sucks, they walk in front of traffic assuming everyone will stop for them and they call us for the stupidest stuff! I've had 4 calls from students who couldn't remember where they parked their car..then couldn't remember what kind of car it was b/c their dad bought it for them or it was their dad's car. How will they ever survive in the real world when they've been spoon fed their entire lives? Sigh..another pet peeve. Oh..and calling us at 3am because they need a light bulb replaced.'s 3am. Go to have class tomorrow and it's not the only light in the room, dumbass. I've been working too much and my patience is wearing very thin.

Jeff and I also ordered new Razr phones through Sprint which should be here sometime this week. There was some confusion about the status of the order and whether the phones were in stock and I had to call them a few times. Every time I called, I got someone who could barely speak English...another pet peeve... and who confused the hell out of me...I got the phones through because they were free w/ a renewed contract..and I also got a free bluetooth headset. When I called to confirm shipping, I asked if everything was going to be in the shipment or if anything was backordered. I asked if the headset was going to be included or shipped separate..and he told me in very broken english that he didn't show anything about a headset being ordered Um..what?! Then he turned around and told me that it was an accessory and would be shipped with the phone. I thought that's what I just asked...?? No matter..I should get them this week and I pray there's no screw up!

I think I also mentioned in a past blog that our camcorder broke. That was in the midst of our house falling apart around us. Anyway..we found out today that Sony did a huge recall of their camcorders..millions of them...and ours happened to be it gets fixed for free! Yea! Good news, good news. In the way of bad news...the draught we've been having sucks. Our grass is mostly completely dead..and while I won't complain about not needing to mow..we need rain..and badly. This past spring, they drained something like 2-3 million gallons of water off of Jordan Lake b/c it was 12 or so feet over normal..and I remember thinking then.."Why are they doing that?? What if we have a draught?"...and sure we are on water restrictions. Yet another pet peeve..

I know this blog is probably the most boring one ever in the history of blogs..but I hadn't written in awhile so I thought I'd update people a little bit. No real excitement..which is fine with me considering all the crap we've been through the past few months. I'm looking forward to going to Maggie Valley with my family..I need a vacation..even if it is only for 3 nights. I will miss Hailey's 9th birthday party though. strikes again. I hate that. I feel like I'm missing soo much of my god-children's lives because of my work schedule. All the fun stuff happens on weekends when I have to work. I miss birthday parties, holidays, Virginia Tech games, trips home to visit friends...night shift really takes it's toll. I need to find something else..and fast.

The Story of Jack

UPDATE: (9-28-07): It is done. We'd made arrangements for Dr. Betton to come to the house Saturday afternoon to do what had to be done. That way, we had another day with him, but it was just not to be. Last night, we set up camp in the den since it was easier than moving Jack back to the bedroom. I kept vigil by his bedside all night since his breathing was so ragid and gurgly. It was taking him extreme effort just to breath and I know he had to have been exhausted, so Jeff and I made the decision to go ahead and do it today. We weren't sure if he'd last another night and he was suffering so much. Dr. Betton's schedule had already filled up and our regular vet had surgeries scheduled all day. We'd really wanted Dr. Betton to do it, but it no longer mattered what we wanted..if it ever mattered. This was about what Jack needed most. We called Pittsboro Animal Hospital since they make house calls and Dr. Weiser was able to work us into her very busy schedule. She came out around 11:45 and around noon, Jack was gone. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do and just when I think I'm composed, I start crying all over again.

Jeff has been so strong through this whole ordeal and helped me so much, but last night was when he broke down. We were in the yard with him when Patches walked over to sniff him. I know she could smell the infection and that she knew something was wrong. She wagged her tail a little bit and then pushed him with her paw like she's always done when she wants to play. When he wouldn't get up, she kept trying and then looked at us like.."Do something.." Then, with the saddest, most somber look on her face, Patches just laid down right next to him to watch over him. That's when Jeff and I both lost it.

Today, after we'd made an appt. with Dr. Weiser, we made the best of the hour and a half we had left with him. It was a gorgeous day, so we let Jack stay outside and bask in the sun. We gave him steak for follow the french fries and strawberry milkshake he had for dinner last night. We gave him ice water and rubbed him constantly. It also allowed me to really look in his mouth. The whole front of his mouth was nothing but a gigantic tumor. He had mucus all over his face as it continued to come out of his nose and eyes. He was drooling and the tumor had taken over his upper teeth and had spread across the roof of his mouth and was starting down his throat. His tongue was dry from where he could no longer close his mouth and he couldn't see. All that had just developed over the past week. Last Friday, other than the growth on his lip, he was still himself. Bouncy, happy, running around and rolling over for belly rubs.

We let the other dogs say their goodbyes and basically held our breaths. We thought it'd be more fitting if Jack were in the yard when this happened. It was a gorgeous day under a perfect blue sky...the best day possible for Jack to make his journey to the Rainbow Bridge. Jeff held him in his arms in the shade of our house while I petted him...and even to the very end Jack was wagging his tail. It happened in under a minute. He was no longer in pain and is off somewhere chasing frogs and acting like a puppy again. I just hope they have peanut butter and french fries. I told Jack I loved him and that this wasn't was just a see you later...and that when I saw him again, I'd bring peanut butter just in case. We held him for what seemed like forever..unwilling to really let go. Even doesn't seem it was all happening to someone else. It crushed me to see Jeff carry his lifeless body to the Dr's Jeep. Even then I kept thinking.."He'll be ok..this isn't real, he'll be back."

Jeff and I came inside and while clinging to each other, we both cried until we had nothing left. We began reminiscing over all the things we'd miss about him. How he'd bounce around and bring you a sock when you came home. How he'd look so embarrassed if he passed gas in front of you. How he hated going into the bathroom because he thought it meant bath time and how he'd rub his rump on your leg to scratch it.Six years wasn't long enough to have him. Out of all our dogs, his presence was the most comforting to me. He was always by my side and followed me through the house, even if I was just going to the fridge and back. The other dogs are sweet, but very demanding. They have to be rubbed on and refuse to let you stop once you start. Jack was the only one who was content to just be near you and would truly cuddle. Jeff mentioned that it had come full circle. When he went to get him to bring him home, he carried him from the store and put him in the back of his Jeep. Today, he did the same thing. I'm not sure how to get through this. I know I will, because I have no choice..but that doesn't make it any easier. I also know it was the right thing to do, but I'd still rather have him here. In a way, I consider myself lucky. I'm 30 and have never lost anyone close to me. I was either too young to remember them or didn't know them well enough. Jack was the 1st and the thought that I'll have to grieve the loss of our other 6 animals hovers over me and leaves a cold hard lump deep inside me.

I'll always wonder what his last thoughts were and if he had a good last day. I know no one could have loved him more and that we gave him a life he would never have had otherwise. I already miss him immensely and the somberness of the house is almost unbearable. He brought happiness and smiles where ever he was and I'm so happy to have had 6 years of that. I'm so proud that he was mine and know that I'll see him again one day..standing at the end of the Rainbow Bridge, bouncing around with a sock in his mouth for me to welcome me home.

UPDATE: (9-27-07) This past week has been awful. The 3rd eyelid on Jack's other eye came up which essentially made him blind. His face and neck got really swollen and filled with fluid, so he couldn't smell and it also affected his hearing. I think the protective cone may have made his hearing worse too. He could hear you but not the direction you were in. Since he couldn't see, smell, or hear..he refused to move. We've been having to carry him outside to potty. He's still been eating and drinking, but it's been rough since it gets worse everyday. We have to hold the water dish up to his mouth so he can feel it..same with the food. Yesterday I called the vet to let them know how bad it had gotten even since Friday. Friday, he could see fine. Monday, he was blind. So, I took him in this morning for a day of medical observation and received a call about 45 min. later from Dr. Davis. The biopsy results were back and I found out about an hour and a half ago that it's cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma. She said it was so advanced that she didn't feel his quality of life would improve even with treatment. We'd be looking at surgery plus chemo or radiation and b/c of the severity of'd be 5k or more...and at his age, she said she didn't feel like it was worth it. I've been crying nonstop ever since I found out b/c it's just so unfair.

We're having Dr. Betton come to the house to do the euthanasia b/c we don't want his last moments to be in a strange place on a cold table. Jeff's supposed to be making the call, so I'm waiting to hear back about when it's going to be. I have no plans of going in to work that day. I'm thinking it'll probably be tomorrow or Saturday. Sigh. I was just sitting in the den after I called Kelly to let her know..and I glanced over to where we'd moved his bed to make him comfortable and just started crying all over again. He normally slept in the bedroom with us but when he couldn't see and refused to move, we felt it'd be easier to bring the bed to him.

If he'd been hit by a car or something, I'd have somewhere to place my blame and anger, but right now I'm only mad at myself. I keep thinking that if I'd gotten him to a vet sooner, or if I'd agreed to the biopsy earlier..he could have been saved. Maybe not..but that's what I keep thinking. He trusted me, and I let him down. I don't know how to deal with that. Anyhow..I'm going to go for now. I'll update again as soon as everything has been dealt with. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and words of comfort. It means more to me than you know.

UPDATE: (9-22-07) Jack's biopsy was yesterday ( 21st) and the Dr. said he did fine. He was still really groggy so we're not going to pick him up until this morning sometime. She said he was still bleeding from his incisions a bit, so we thought we'd let that stop before bringing him home. He's been getting blood all over the carpet because he keeps scrapping it with his hopefully now that she's cleaned it up, it won't be as bad. We're going to ask for one of those cone collars in hopes that he'll leave it alone so it can heal. We should get the results back within a week or so! It looks worse everyday, so I'm glad we picked the more expensive lab to get the results back sooner! Pray for him..and us! I'll keep you posted!

UPDATE: (9-12-07) Jack had his antibiotics switched this past Friday but his lip is looking worse now than ever. He has a biopsy scheduled for next Friday, the 21st. It was the earliest I could get him in. He's having some breathing problems due to what sounds like drainage, so we're having to watch him closely. Keep him in your prayers!

UPDATE:(9/2/07) I took Jack to the vet last Tuesday (28th) to have his eye checked out and she said it looked fine other than the 3rd eyelid being up. She looked at the back of his eye and said there didn't appear to be an infection and had no explanation for why his eyelid was half covering his eye. His pupil is normal and responds to stimuli, though it looks a bit sunken. She said that she was leaning more towards a neurological cause..such as a pinched nerve caused by the growth on his lip. He can still see fine, but it's still weepy. Also, since his lip got worse on a higher dose of steroids, she's leaning towards a type of bacterial or fungal infection. We lowered his dose of steroids and are weening him off of it so we can have a biopsy done. I need to call her this week to find out how soon I can do it. Once the current bottle of antibiotics is empty, he'll have had a 6 week dose, which our vet said is at least keeping down any secondary infection.

He has another check up this Thursday, the 5th, so I'll let you know something soon! In regards to the expenses, I had so much overtime on my last check, that paying for the biopsy shouldn't be a problem!! Woo hoo! What a blessing!!!


Six years ago this past July, Jeff and I stopped at the Petsmart in Roanoke to get Patches some more food since we hadn't brought enough with us and to get Farley a new feather since he'd destroyed his. We just happened to go there during the time that a rescue group was there with all their adoptable animals. This is when we met Jack.

We were cooing over all the cute puppies and kittens when I saw this sweet faced little blonde girl sitting inside one of the pens petting a black fuzzy dog. The dog was lying there with his head in her lap soaking up the attention. He looked up at us with these somber but hopeful green eyes and thumped his tail twice. It was love at first site. The tag on the pen said that he was 7 months old and a border collie/black lab mix. I thought.."Oh..he's going to be huge!" We'd been thinking of getting a buddy for Patches so she wouldn't be completely alone while we were at work, but a black lab?? In our little apartment?? No way.

We pet him some more and were completely taken in by his big green eyes and eagerness to please. He was so calm and sweet and painfully shy. He was looking at the feather I'd picked up for Farley and I dangled it in front of him trying to get him to play. He seemed if he wasn't sure if it was ok to touch it or not. I moved it closer to him only for him to duck and try to back away. I felt so sad that he would think I'd hurt him...which meant someone had hurt this sweet tender hearted puppy. I talked to him and rubbed his belly and when I jingled the feather a little more, he tentatively tried to bite it, but really didn't know how to play at all.

Jeff and I spent over an hour there just petting him and discussing whether or not we could get him. The woman there told me he'd been staying with her since he was a tiny thing and that he was extremely gentle and sweet but that he'd been brought back twice before. His sister Jill, had been adopted out earlier that day, so he was now alone. I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to bring him back, but it raised a red flag since she said she didn't know why. We got their contact information and left, looking back to see the sorrow in Jack's eyes. We discussed it for the rest of the weekend and I thought about Jack quite a bit through the next few days.

Sometime that week, I'd made a decision. I told Jeff that the following Saturday, he was driving back up to Roanoke to pick up Jack and bring him home. I had to work and was unable to go with him. Jeff took Patches so they could meet and to ensure that they'd get along. After the adoption fees, a 2nd crate, another dog bowl, collar and leash, Jeff made his way back to Durham with both dogs in tow. When I got home from work Saturday night, I had a big black fuzzy lump in my living room floor. He looked up at me with that same hopeful green gaze while thumping his tail and I went over to give him a huge hug.

The next few weeks were an adjustment. He didn't know how to play with other dogs. He'd just sit there watching Patches chase the ball or run around and bounce off furniture.(AKA The Border Collie Midnight Terror Run). Anytime we got near him with anything in our hands, even just a pencil, he'd drop his head and try to back up. Truth be told, he still does it sometimes.

At the end of the first month, I decided it was bath time. He'd gotten used to our schedule and our routines and being fed every day and we had some level of trust, so I felt that it was ok to add something new to his routine. I hadn't given him a bath earlier because I didn't want to scare him and I didn't want it to be too much new stuff at one time. the tub he went. He looked horrified and was shaking like a leaf. I talked to him and give him a cookie and then discovered how hard it is to wet him down. He's got the long shaggy fur of a border collie..but it's water repellent like a black lab. Uh oh. Is bath time supposed to be that much of a challenge??

Once wet, I started lathering him up and realized that the soap was turning a pale purple. Oh no...something's wrong!! That's not supposed to happen!! I kept washing and it kept turning a darker purple. I rinsed. I repeated. It was still coming out purple. I rinsed again and dried him off. Interesting...he wasn't as dark as before..and had a silvery sheen to him. It was only then that I realized what had been done. They'd dyed him black! After a trip to the vet a few days later, I reasoned out why. The vet informed me that he was NOT 7 months old, but more like 2-3 years old based on his teeth. They'd dyed him to make him look younger so he'd have a better chance of being adopted. They'd lied to us. I didn't care how old he was, but I did care about being lied to.

The next few baths were the same..more purple water. In the end, he was a silvery black, which to some could be considered gray..until you got him in the sunlight. He was beautiful. Sure, his eyes looked less green when they weren't surrounded by pitch black fur, but they still spoke volumes of his feelings. He has the most expressive face of any dog I've ever seen.

Then came 9/11. I was on night shift by then and had slept that whole day. I didn't find out until that afternoon when Jeff called to tell me to turn on the TV. I was in utter shock. I went through the motions of getting ready for work but I was in a complete daze. As I reached down to pick up my socks, the enormity of the situation hit me. As I crouched down, Jack pushed himself into my arms, put his paw on my arm and rested his head against my chest. He gave me comfort when I needed it the most. He always has. I just held him there, hugging him back, amazed at how in tune he was with my feelings.

Over the past six years, Jack has really come out of his shell. He learned how to play and became completely goofy. When he gets excited, he bounces all over the place and has to pick up a toy. Patches is his best friend and while they don't curl up together and take naps anymore, they're the only 2 of our 4 dogs that will share a food bowl and the only 2 who won't fight over a place in the bed. They both know there's room for both of them. They're the originals. Our first babies. Well, them and Farley cat.

Year before last, Jack developed a red growth on the inside of his lip that was hard as a rock. He wouldn't let us touch it, but it went away a few days before his vet appointment, so I cancelled it. A few months later, it came back...but the same thing happened. It's come and gone since then. He's been on antibiotics for it once, but every went away. Until this past time.

It developed again at the end of June and we thought it'd go away again, but after a month, it'd gotten bigger. It became visible around the edge of his lip from a distance. Before, you could only see it if you raised up his lip. Now, it sticks out and is red and angry looking. It even looks like there's puss in some spots. He accidentally hit his mouth on the chair and it burst open, pouring blood. We cleaned it the best we could, but he kept re injuring it. He's been on clyndimicin (sp?) and prednizone (antibiotics & steroids for those that don't know) for 3 weeks. Just after starting the antibiotics, it looked better..not as.....juicy..and swollen.

Just before his 2 week check-up, Jack accidentally got smacked in the mouth with a 2 liter Coke bottle while we were putting up groceries. There was blood and puss on the side of the bottle and Jack's nose was bleeding a little. After that, it looked the same as it did when I first took him in. They're completely baffled. All they did was up his steroids and scheduled me for another check up in 2 weeks.

Yesterday, I noticed his eye was really weepy. It was more closed than his other one and the extra lid that sometimes gets swollen during an injury or infection, was half over his eye. I called the vet today to schedule an appointment this week instead of waiting for his check up next week. The next step is a biopsy which will run me about $400. If it's cancerous, my options are surgery to remove it($1500-$2000), radiation ($4,000), or chemotherapy($1500-$2000-per treatment). Dr. Davis said that the best option would be radiation if it ends up being cancerous. Even if it's not cancer I don't know that I can afford whatever treatment he needs. He is 8 or 9, so part of me thinks it's not worth paying that much for treatment when I'm already stretched thin. But there's another part of me who isn't willing to give up on him and could never live with myself if I didn't give him every opportunity to get better.

I'm so confused. I love Jack and it saddens me to no end that he's not as bouncy as he once was. Sure, his appetite's the same and he's not lethargic by any means..but he's lost the bounce in his step. He looks sad..and in pain and it breaks my heart to see that. Jeff and I have been trying to have children for several years now and are at a point where IVF is our only option. We've put that on hold for almost a year because even though insurance will cover a portion of it, we can't afford the $3000 out of pocket expense. It wouldn't seem right to me to take out a loan to pay for Jack's treatment if we're not willing to do it to have a child, you know? But, at the same time, I don't want to give up on him. He might be old, but he could still have 5 -6 years of life left in him.

No matter what happens, I know he's led a good life and is as spoiled as any dog can be. I know I'll see him across the rainbow bridge one day, but that doesn't make the decisions that face me any easier to deal with. All I can do is ask for some kind of peace and guidance to get me through all of this. My mind knows that one day...he won't be around anymore, but my heart won't accept that. Maybe that's the biggest reason I wrote this blog. To remind myself of where he came from, what he's done for me and why I should fight for him. Or maybe I wrote it so that after he's gone, I'll remember those big hopeful green eyes that looked up at me and stole my heart all those years ago. Or for both reasons.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Vick will be destroyed!!!

Wow...this didn't take very long!! Hahahaha!! I think I may buy a couple!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Got my Nissan, screw Honda.

Well, I FINALLY got my Nissan back! After 2.5 weeks and $121, I got it back. They replaced the throttle body sensor, fuel pump and computer as well as cleaned and lubed the sunroof tracks and changed the oil. What they didn't do..was my state inspection. They had it for 16 days and didn't get that little thing done?? When I picked it up, they told me I could leave it there another day for them to do it. thanks..I'll take it to someone who won't jerk me around.

They did wash my car though..which wasn't on their list of things I asked for...but didn't clean the inside which is where all the greasy, oily hand and fingerprints were. They even got grease on my seat and refused to detail it for free. When I bought the car..they said they'd detail it and never me send out a big F YOU to Sanford Honda. I understand that Nissan's the one who did all the work..but I left the car in Honda's they should be responsible since they're the ones who sublet the work to Nissan. Am I wrong to think that? I am thankful, however, that this was a warranty fix, because if it hadn't been, I'd have paid $1400 instead of $121. Yikes.

The other thing I'm confused about is that I dropped it off with a full tank of gas and the odometer read 94511. The receipt has the end mileage listed at 94521, but when I looked at actually read 94555 and I only had a half tank of gas. Um..ok. I understand they have to test drive it, but half a tank of gas for 44 miles?? I don't think so. Honda denied any knowledge of it saying that Carolina Nissan must have been the ones to do it...but it was Honda's receipt that listed the incoming and outgoing mileage.

I feel a bit scammed..but at least my car's running and I don't have to drive the big ol' truck anymore. I was getting some flirty looks from some old grubby rednecks. Apparently there's something about a woman driving a pick up that appeals to certain men. All I was lacking was a tattoo on the back of my neck, a ponytail pulled through a Nascar hat, a wife-beater, daisy dukes, a can of Skoal and a Git-R-Done sticker. That just screams sexy, duttinit?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nissan Update

I was asked by a couple people here at work when I was getting my Nissan back and thought I'd update everyone. It turned out not to be the accelerator sensor, but the throttle body sensor. The Honda dealer I bought it from had to take it to the Nissan place to have it worked now they've had it for over a week.They told me that if the sensor didn't fix the problem that they'd have to replace the entire throttle body...which isn't covered by my warranty and would cost me $705. They also replaced the fuel pump b/c it was rattling on a cold start.

So..Wednesday, they replaced the sensor and low and behold...(drum roll please) didn't fix the problem. They think it's the computer but don't know if it'll have to be replaced or if it can be fixed..and that's the last I heard. Come Monday, it'll have been 2 weeks since I dropped it off. Even once the Honda place gets it back, they have to do an oil change and state inspection. If the throttle body has to be replaced..I'll just buy the part online and let Jeff do it. If the computer has to be replaced..well, at least that's also covered by warranty.

Some have asked me why I took it to a Honda dealer instead of straight to Nissan. Well, the stipulations in my warranty say I have to take it to the issuing dealer in order to make a claim...but it shouldn't be taking this long. I know they drag their feet on warranty fixes b/c they're not getting paid..but this sucks. On the up side, at least they can get it all fixed at one time and I only have to pay the $100 deductible one time instead of several and only have to drop it off this one time.

If I get REALLY lucky...I can go pick it up tomorrow..but that'll never happen. Karma sucks..I must've really pissed someone off up there! C'est la vie.

If it's not ready by next Wednesday at the latest..I'm tempted to just tell them to pay me for the freakin' car and I'll go somewhere else and buy a new one. to me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I've had some strange dreams this week that I can't seem to interpret. Normally, I can pull the meaning out of them and cut through the crap....but these..made no sense. The first was a dream about Jeff and I going to visit Don Knots in a nursing home and he wouldn't let us touch his sheets. He was also trying to sell us dog collars. He was lucid and talkative, but would get angry when we'd get close to the bed. He was very protective of his bedsheets. ??? No idea.

The 2nd one was today where I was a bridesmaid in my ex's wedding. I thought it strange and was trying to avoid him, but his mother insisted I go to the front of the church. She also made it known that she did not like me at all whatsoever because I kept pornographic pictures on my bedroom walls..which infuriated me since it's not true. She finally believed me and apologized for holding a grudge against me for the past 9 years.

I hid under a piano that was part of the pew and she dragged me out to force me to have a picture taken with another ex who was also a bridesmaid. What's that she wasn't one of James' ex's...but one of Kevin's..who's another ex of mine. I walked up for the picture and was crying and was afraid James would think I was upset b/c he was getting married..but it was b/c I was embarrassed about just being there since I hadn't seen him in 8 years. When I wiped my tears away, Kevin's ex and I put our arms around each other for the picture. Then..the photographer wanted a pic of us with Jame's wife.

Jeff was sitting near the front of the church and I walked up to him...and all of a sudden I looked like I was about 8 months pregnant. James and I never said a word to each other and I never even looked him in the face..I never saw his wife or anything. I asked his mom why I was even a bridesmaid and she said it was because he didn't know what else to do with me.

WTF? I hadn't thought about James in a LONG time and now this weird ass dream out of nowhere? There were several other strange dreams this week, but I don't remember them. These were the only 2 that stuck out. Maybe I'm just stressed out and my brain's being overactive while I sleep. The past couple of weeks have been stressful financially since my Nissan's still in the shop and won't be ready until next week. They'll have had it for over 2 weeks by the time I can go pick it up.

I did have a wonderful trip to the beach with Kelly this past weekend and that was relaxing. We talked all day and laughed while swimming in the ocean and pool...ate cheap but good mexican food and did some shopping. But...other than that day at the beach...things have been stressful.

Jeff had to replace the alternator in the truck and spent the weekend changing the timing belt, water pump, etc. in his Miata and kept having to go back to the parts store to get stuff..then had a radiator leak and spent Tuesday refixing some it was expensive in the end. And..since I won't have my Nissan back by this weekend, we have to take the Chevy Caprice to Roanoke and it sucks some serious gas. If you're wondering...we have 5 cars. Yes..they all run and we use 4 of them on a frequent basis. The the Audi 90 which Jeff would like to if you're interested..let me know. It has no right side headlight due to deer damage and therefore can't pass inspection, but if you want it for parts..please come haul the bitch'll be one less thing to be stressed over.

For now, I'm looking forward to a weekend in Roanoke where I can go celebrate the marital union of some friends and drink to their happiness. And there's free that's always a plus! Until next time...stay safe and keep happy.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Car Slayer

This day has SUCKED. As you all know..the accelerator sensor went out on my Nissan Friday on my way into work. This morning on my way home, the truck died on me and I had to pull off into someone's driveway because country roads don't have shoulders. The short version is that he towed the truck back to the house, I paid him and he left. Jeff spent the day putting a new alternator in it..because he's just awesome. I got no's that time of the month, my sinuses are killing I called in to work. I needed a mental health day. Tomorrow, I have to figure out how to get my Nissan to the mechanic since the gas pedal is unresponsive most of the time. I can't afford another tow truck.

I've just had the worst luck lately! Just in the past few months, it's been the septic line, the hot water heater, the refrigerator, the AC, and 2 I must have made someone pretty angry.OH..and a random thought..My grandpa had a mini-stroke last week and Mom didn't tell me. He'll be ok, but I talked to her Saturday and she didn't mention it. Grrrr.

But..on the up sister's coming down this weekend and we're going to the beach for a that'll be a much needed break and a LOT of fun!! September..we're planning a family vacation in Maggie Valley, NC which is part of the I'm really looking forward to that too. White water rafting, here I come!! Though..with my luck lately..maybe it'd be too much of a risk. Sigh. Ok..I'm off to take a much needed bubble bath and try to con Jeff into giving me a foot massage. I hope everyone's summer is going better than mine has been so far!